Dear Joe,— . . . I have had a handsome success, in one way, here. I left New York under a sort of half promise to furnish to the Harper magazine 30,000 words this year. Magazining is difficult work because every third page represents 2 pages that you have put in the fire; (because you are nearly sure to start wrong twice) and so when you have finished an article and are willing to let it go to print it represents only 10 cents a word instead of 30.
But this time I had the curious (and unexpected) luck to start right in each case. I turned out 37,000 words in 25 working days; and the reason I think I started right every time is, that not only have I approved and accepted the several articles, but the court of last resort (Livy) has done the same.
On many of the between-days I did some work, but only of an idle and not necessarily necessary sort, since it will not see print until I am dead. I shall continue this (an hour per day) but the rest of the year I expect to put in on a couple of long books (half-completed ones.) No more magazine-work hanging over my head.
This secluded and silent solitude this clean, soft air and this enchanting view of Florence, the great valley and the snow-mountains that frame it are the right conditions for work. They are a persistent inspiration. To-day is very lovely; when the afternoon arrives there will be a new picture every hour till dark, and each of them divine—or progressing from divine to diviner and divinest. On this (second) floor Clara’s room commands the finest; she keeps a window ten feet high wide open all the time and frames it in. I go in from time to time, every day and trade sass for a look. The central detail is a distant and stately snow-hump that rises above and behind black-forested hills, and its sloping vast buttresses, velvety and sun-polished with purple shadows between, make the sort of picture we knew that time we walked in Switzerland in the days of our youth.
I wish I could show your letter to Livy—but she must wait a week or so for it. I think I told you she had a prostrating week of tonsilitis a monthago; she has remained very feeble ever since, and confined to the bed of course, but we allow ourselves to believe she will regain the lost ground in another month. Her physician is Professor Grocco—she could not have a better. And she has a very good trained nurse.
Love to all of you from all of us. And to all of our dear Hartford friends. / Mark [MTP: Paine’s 1917 Mark
Twain’s Letters, p.738]. Note: Prof. Pietro Grocco, and Margaret Sherry. See Jan. 10 for P.S.
James Henderson, advertising manager of the Columbia Phonograph Co. wrote from NYC to ask if Sam would “sell his voice”—that is, write a short story and dictate it to a graphophone for a series of records! [MTP]. Note: regrettably, this did not happen; no recording of Twain is extant, though a few were made.
January 8 Friday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam wrote to Frederick A. Duneka.
I see by the telegram in the “Nationale” that Joan of Arc was beatified day before yesterday, & that the Holy Father replied in person to the eulogy delivered by the Archbishop of Paris.
It may be that this event will presently start up a run of magazining concerning Joan. I being her American literary representative, & author of the first historical story in our late long list of that kind
of books, I don’t quite want to be silent & seem indifferent in case the run occurs; therefore I am going to send you a Joan-Eulogy & be ready.
If you presently find you need it, use it in one or another of the periodicals. If it shall turn out that you don’t need it, put it where you can find it when I ask for it; it might come handy as an Introduction to a new or holiday edition of the “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc,” & as an advertising-detail for the same [MTP]. Note: Sam was good at anticipating marketing possibilities.
Sam also wrote to unidentified persons (Concordia press club?) whom he addressed as “My dear Friends of other days.” He wrote the note in German and then translated it as well, in case his German couldn’t be read. “I am sorry I am several days too late, but your letter did not reach me until to-day. It went to Rome (where I do not live) & was delayed. With New Year salutations & best wishes to the Concordia, I am…”[MTP]. Note: Sam spoke at the Concordia press club in Vienna on Oct. 31, 1897.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.